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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry talked to the media on Thursday. The Nittany Lions meet Akron on Saturday at noon in the home opener inside Beaver Stadium (ABC/ESPN2). Take a look at a Q&A with Pry leading up to Saturday's clash with the Zips.
Q: What has it meant to you to be back in this region as a coach? What are some of the benefits to being back in your home region?
Pry: "Well, first of all, being able to see family. One of the tough things about this business is that you are moving all over the country. In most situations, you don't have family nearby. That's been the case for my wife and I at the last couple places we have lived. To have the chance to come back to Central PA and be close to all of my family in Altoona, Williamsport, as well, has been really good. We have seen a lot of them already. They have spent time with my children, gotten to know them. We've gotten to see their kids. Particularly for my wife and kids, it is a benefit. It's a real positive."
Q: As the assistant head coach, can you talk about the responsibilities that entails for this program?
Pry: "I would say in general that I am a sounding board that the assistants come to when they have questions or concerns that may need to go on to Coach Franklin or may not need to go on to Coach Franklin, as well as the support staff...There is a little bit of administrative responsibilities that go along with it. I think it's what I make it and what Coach wants it to be. He likes a voice. He likes opinions. He likes feedback. And I feel it is my responsibility to give him that."
Q: We've heard a lot about Gary Wooten during spring ball and practice. Do you think we are close to seeing him within the framework of the defense?
Pry: "Yes. Gary had a very good camp. I feel good about his development. I trust putting Gary into the game. Saturday's game in Ireland didn't merit it just from a reps standpoint. It just wasn't necessary to play him. We were able to ride the game out with Mike, and we were glad to do that. Gary is ready. If the situation presents itself, I feel good about putting Gary in the game this weekend."
Q: How has the depth at linebacker developed?
Pry: "Obviously, the first guy is Gary Wooten. He is our fourth guy right now. He is the guy I am most comfortable with. He runs the defense from the `Mike' position. He calls the shots. He's done a very good job learning the position. Of course, he's got a great guy to learn from and follow. Jason Cabinda has had a strong camp. He's in a position where he could potentially play at `Will' linebacker, as well as Troy Reeder. (We don't have) the same need at `Mike' linebacker, but Troy Reeder has had a very nice camp, and he has put himself in a position where he could potentially play as a freshman this year. The depth, we've also developed Brandon Bell at both outside linebacker positions. He's had ample time at `Sam' and `Will'. He's a really knowledgeable guy who studies the game. He provides some depth, too, at the outside positions since he can play multiple spots. We have the same situation with Nyeem. He could easily move out and play the `Sam' position if needed. Those positions mirror each other to a degree. As much `Star' as we are playing and sub-packages, we are able to have more flexibility with those guys."
Q: When you went over the film from Saturday with the players, what did you see from the UCF game?
Pry: "When we looked at the tape Sunday and watched it as a unit, there were some really positive things. There were very, very few missed tackles. There were very few mental errors. For the most part, we were technique-sound. We did have a few things that we needed to clean up as a group. And then there were a few things individually. All three guys graded out a winner. I was very glad to see that. But each one of them had a few items that we need to get cleaned up and be better at this week. All in all, it was a good day's work. There were a lot of positives on the tape. We addressed those things. We talk about them. We want everyone to understand what guys did well. And then we address the liabilities and we talk about the things that weren't good enough that we've got to take a step forward with. And that goes for the whole unit. We want everyone to learn from each other's mistakes so that we can get the whole group advancing forward. It was a productive day for us in a lot of ways."
Q: Can you talk about some of the challenges Akron's offense presents to your defense?
Pry: "I'm going tell you. My father (Jim Pry) was the offensive coordinator when they won the MAC championship. Charlie Frye and Luke Getsy were the quarterbacks back in those days. It's a good program. They get good athletes. They've got a couple receivers who can really play. They've got a confident quarterback who can make all the throws. They've got an experienced tailback. Any time you have that type of offense that can move the football, if I'm sitting in their offices right now, they feel like they are turning the corner...They've got a lot of momentum. For them, they are looking at this as the perfect time to come down to Penn State and get a win. And really put a stamp on what they are doing there. I have tremendous respect for Coach Bowden and everything he has done. They have a really experienced staff with a lot of good coaches. And they have a very formidable offense. They pose a real threat."